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Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam set to be grilled at first Legco Q&A session

City’s newly inaugurated leader likely to face tough questions on her manifesto pledges and promises

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 July, 2017, 7:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 July, 2017, 4:48pm

Hong Kong’s new leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will be grilled on how she will deliver on her election promises on Wednesday as she attends her first question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council.

She will also announce plans to give an extra recurrent expenditure of HK$5 billion on education, a manifesto pledge which she hopes to get Legco’s endorsement for before it breaks for the summer later this month.

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Holding the session on her fifth day in office is seen as a gesture to show Lam’s determination to improve the soured relationship between the executive and the legislative branches, but the pan-democrats are not going to give her an easy time, preparing to fire hard questions targeting her election promises and covering political controversies.

Shiu Ka-chun, lawmaker for the welfare sector, said he would ask Lam whether she had changed her stance on the Basic Competence Assessment (BCA), a territory-wide examination for primary school pupils some educators say is undesirable because of the associated high-pressure drilling methods.

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“I will ask her whether she is changing her stance on BCA, and if so, why does she do that right after she assumes office,” Shiu said.

During the chief executive election, Lam said the BCA should be “suspended”. But on Monday,Lam only said she would conduct a review and believed there was “a middle ground” to reach a consensus between supporters and opponents to the exam.

Parent groups are due to stage a protest outside Legco to demand immediate cancellation of the exam.

The Democratic Party will press Lam on what measures she will adopt in “resisting” interference by Beijing’s liaison office in her administration, according to one of its legislator Andrew Wan Shiu-kin. During the election, Lam said she would make it clear it would be the chief executive’s “prerogative” to govern Hong Kong under the autonomy promised by the central government.

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Another Democrat, James To Kun-sun, said they would also continue to query Lam on how she will press ahead with the UGL probe surrounding Leung Chun-ying. The inquiry, being conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, looks at Leung's past business dealings with Australian firm UGL before he took office. He received HK$50 million from UGL during his tenure as the city’s leader.

While Lam told media on Tuesday she would not interfere in any inquiry by law enforcement agencies, “what she said surely is not enough assurance”, To said, given a personnel saga last year that saw the graft buster chief remove the top investigator in charge of the probe.

Meanwhile, the Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said his party would chase Lam on her election pledge to amend the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to cover the chief executive. The law currently prohibits civil servants and other officers, but not the leader herself, from accepting gifts without the chief executive’s consent.

“Lam cannot go away without answering when she will relaunch the electoral reform,” Yeung added. Lam has been non-committal to the issue, only saying she will create favourable conditions to revisit the thorny issue.

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On the pro-establishment side, Leung Che-cheung, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he would like to enquire about elderly policies.

As Leung had earmarked a total of HK$30 billion to strengthen elderly services and rehabilitation services for the disabled in the government budget, Leung wondered if Lam would follow his plan and use the money to purchase technological products and services.